generative construction in the sandbox (or snow box! )

For the past few months I’ve been thinking of public art as the dinner table. You can gather around it, talk, share ideas, and get to know one another. My favorite pieces would do it, bringing people together in a city.

Yesterday I came across a metaphor which I like a lot, that of a sandbox. Like the dinner table, it is an object with intention- people go to it for a specific reason.  What is different though is that the sandbox far more easily taps into the idea of generative construction that I find so compelling, where you create a situation that allows participants to be creative in unexpected ways- together or alone. The sandox is like the dinner table that encourages generative construction.

It is ephemeral, things break down, encouraging creation.

When you go to a sandbox, you dont arrive and stand around it, you go inside.    You’re in it.  You’re standing on the materials you’re using. That immersiveness must make it easier to get into the state of mind to imagine and make.

inside a sandbox


When you’re in it, you can meet a friend, you can invite people.  You can share ideas with words or with the sand.

in a sandbox with a friend


You can build alone, you can build together.  You can append, you can create, you can destroy, together.  Here the sandbox has become a means for so many ways to know one another, and so many possibilities.


Screen Shot 2013-02-09 at 9.33.43 AM


I love that. I want to make things that allow that sort of collective creativity.

Right now we’re in the middle of a giant winter storm in the northeast, Nemo.  Looking out the window we have tons and tons of snow.  We’ve got all this great material dumped all around us.  We’re coordinating to meet at parks, or squares, to play and make together.  Whatever we make, it will melt.